And here’s this one live.
And here’s this one live.
Let me tell you the last time someone conned me. I was 19 years old and I was a stupid 19. Somehow I ended up in London, wandering around the back streets of Piccadilly Circus. I see this gorgeous girl standing outside some strip club next to a sign that says “beer and a show £5.” Now this girl has got the thinnest smoothest legs I’ve ever seen. She could have been selling cancer in a pop can and I would have gone over to listen to the pitch.
“£5 pound for a beer and a show. That’s it?”, “That’s it,” she says. I give her a 5. She puts it in her purse and hands me a laminated white card and we go downstairs. She leads through a dimly lit lounge with a couch (occupied by some black guy with a girl on each arm) and old woman behind a coat check, and into the next room. Then she asks me if I’m ready for the show.
In the next room there are dozens of couches and a stage with a single pole. An even more beautiful woman comes up to me with my beer. This girl has straight blonde hair, gorgeous smile, and is only wearing black lingerie. She sits down next to me and starts asking me questions. Where I’m from, where I grew up, and she’s talking to me like I’m the most interesting person in the world. These days anytime anyone is that interested in me, I get suspicious, but 19 me kept yakking away.
After a couple of minutes, she stops me and says, the show will start as soon as I pay the bill. I hand her the white laminated card the other girl gave me, and blondie says, “No that’s for the show, I mean the bill.” I have no idea what she’s talking about but then she hands me the menu. She points to the bottom which says in fine print, Services of the companion £277. Everything comes to a screeching halt and I demand to talk to the manager (as if this were a respectable establishment).
I find myself back in the lounge arguing with the old lady behind the coat check. Blocking the stairs is the black guy from the couch, but now his arms are crossed, ready for any shit I’m going to pull. Coat check lady is telling me the menu is clearly marked and that I have to pay for services. Normally I wouldn’t care, I’d just say “fuck you I don’t have any money.” But I had £500 on me for an… errand. That 500 needed to go where it was going. “If you don’t have any money, just open your wallet and show it to the camera.” I turn around and face the brother blocking my path. “You going to stop me if I leave?” and he comes back with “You wanna try me?”
So that’s when I pull out my cell phone. “Put that away. You can make calls down here.” the old lady commands. And I know something’s up. “If you’re so sure the £277 charge is legit, why don’t I call the cops, they come down here, and if they say I owe you, I’ll pay.” Now I’m bluffing. Because that errand I was doing… well I still had some of the product on me. And believe me if the cops came down here, I’d be in a ton more trouble than she’d be.
She’s staring me right in the face and I’m staring right back. “We had a party of rich Arabs in here last night, they were more than happy to pay.” I spout back “I’m dialing 999. ” “I said put that away.” I can see the old lady making nods at the black guy, probably to grab the phone out of my hand. “I’m pressing send.” Then curtly and with an air of superiority I hear “Get the fuck out!” And for some reason I reply with “Thank you.” And I bolt.
Now I’m outside making sure the black guy isn’t following me, heart racing, and I’m so fucking pissed at myself. All the little clues I should have seen are now painfully obvious. The cheap show, the black dude on the couch, the empty room. And that’s when I decide right there, I’m not going to be a sucker for anyone ever again. That I would always been on the other end of it. Couple of years later I see that old lady come into Vinney’s in New Jersey. Same woman, I swear to God. Right there right in front of me. So I… well that’s a story for another time.
Last day to donate September 30th.
See this monologue come to life later this week!
Can you ever know where you’re supposed to be in life? Some people will tell you, “you just know. “
Six years ago, the Viper Room. We may not have been the headliner, but still. People come to the Viper Room, not just your fans, and not just the bar regulars. People that can make things happen.
We get there for warm up and the place is heaven. But I got this nagging feeling. The crowd. No matter how nice the venue, a bad crowd can mean the difference between getting signed with a label or never playing there again. That’s when Sticks can’t keep his shit together. His girlfriend dumped him Friday or some shit and he’s had a few fifths between last night and now.
15 minutes before the show Mike is trying to cheer him up and get him in the game and I’m calling every drummer I’ve ever met, I mean I’m literally on the phone with a guy from my high school marching band. But then Sticks jumps up like he just had a Five Hour Enema and says “Fuck that bitch, she ain’t going to bring me down.”
We go out on stage and the place is PACKED. I’ve never played for an audience this size. I mean it was constant crowd between the stage and the bar. We start playing with “Trueno de Mexico” and Sticks is off. We know it, the audience knows it, it’s bad. We stumble though the song. So I go off the setlist and play “Impossible Yesterday” next. Now Impossible Yesterday is our best song, we were saving it for the finale, but if I don’t do something, we’re not going to make it to the finale.
The lucky thing about the song is that starts with an a cappella solo. No drums. It’s just me. Maybe if Sticks listens to me, maybe he can get back on beat. But here’s the other thing. I… L O V E that solo. When I sing it, the world shuts out and I just crush it.
I’m feeling it all, all at once, now today.
The fears and the problems creeping up once again.
The beds just too big, I wish you would come home.
And sooth the soul of this old tired fool.
I hear “clap, cla-cla-cla, clap”, “clap, cla-cla-cla, clap”. I open my eyes. The whole front row has become our percussion. Michael comes in on guitar, then the rest of the band. Now the audience is singing along. Sticks wakes up and back on. It’s just magic from then on out.
For years I would have said moments like that is was what it was all about for me. So when it all dried up, it was hard. Very hard. Seeing that possibility get farther and farther away. Maybe you never know where you’re supposed to be in life.
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I know I haven’t updated this thing in ages. And that’s because I’ve been super uber busy. I started this blog about 3 years ago as an exercise to write and I wrote some posts that I am very proud of. I even had a story bumping around in my head that I did as a series of Jill posts (Marty’s 1/2 Dozen) which is very dear to me and I will finish, but probably in another format. Since moving out to LA I’ve had some tremendous opportunities. I did some reality TV work, was a writer’s assistant on an AMAZING hidden camera magic show – The Carbonaro Effect (if you haven’t seen that show click right here right now!!!), got to work in the writer’s room of one of my favorite shows of all time – Robot Chicken, and I’ve gotten to write with some amazing writing partners to producer material I am incredibly proud of.
So what’s all this about then? Well, I’m taking one of my screenplay shorts and I’m filming it. Yes, this is an ask you to fund my project plea, but I gotta start somewhere. So if there is any of you out there that enjoyed MackJackandJill.com and what to see what else I can do or just want to see me grow as a writer and an artist, please click the links below and give me a couple of bucks. $5? $10? More? It’s all good. Just like the Facebook page for all I care. But please please, help support me. Just this once. And maybe once this baby is made, we’ll see some more from Mack Jack and Jill.
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When I was 10 years old, I was on a manhunt for Gambit. Part Toy Biz’s second series of X-Men action figures (pictured below.)
You could walk into any Toys ‘R’ Us, KB Toys, or Lone Star Comics and see on the shelf any of one those beloved action figures. Except Gambit (and Iceman, but his toy was stupid.) You see, much like the De Beers diamond cartel, toy companies intentionally withhold certain figures to create a demand. So when a box of X-Men figures shipped, its contents included plenty of Banshees, Forges, Saurons, and the three different versions of Wolverine. But the a Gambit figure might be only one per box, or even none at all.
So in order to conduct my manhunt, I called previously listed toy stores everyday for about 6 months. To this day I still have the Toys ‘R’ Us number memorized. Even though it’s been closed for about 10 years. My phone call went something like this.
Toys’R’Us Automated Phone: Thank you for calling Toys R Us. We are conveniently located on 5505 Arapaho Road. Across from the Preston Wood mall. Our hours today are from 9 am to 10 pm. If you need help with–
Little Jack presses 0.
Toys’R’Us Representative: Thank you for calling Toys’R’Us how can I help you?
Little Jack: Um..I was wondering if you’ve gotten your shipment in for the day.
Toys’R’Us Representative: Is this Jack?
Little Jack: Yes.
Toys’R’Us Representative: What is it you’re looking for again? Power Rangers?
Little Jack: No, I’m looking for any shipments of the X-Men Series 2 action figures.
Toys’R’Us Representative: Hold on, let me check.
2-5 minutes later.
Toys’R’Us Representative: We did, but didn’t get any Gambits.
And that’s what I did with my childhood when I wasn’t playing video games.
So why am I telling you about this? Well I’ve been out of a job for a few months now. I’ll spare you the details of my rise and fall from the reality TV world, my adventures of the writers’ room of an unnamed but super mega awesome scripted TV show, and finally my depressing return to the restaurant frontier. I decided once and for all to do what it takes to get the office Production Assistant job that is so coveted by any and all aspiring TV writers.
Between Deadline, Below the Line, Che Equis’s Temp Diaries, and a few secret tracking boards, I’ve managed to compile a list of television pilots currently in either development or production. (See below).
This is just a sample of the document in my Google Drive. In actuality it spans over 100 pilots. And each day I update the list’s phone numbers, status, and then scan for who I have slated to contact for the day. Then I call.
Here’s how it goes down.
Production Intern/Assistant: Something Something Productions.
Adult Jack: Hi, I was calling to see if the production company of [insert show name] pilot has been set up yet.
Production Intern/Assistant: Oh I uh…I don’t think so. Try calling back in a month. (They always say a month).
Not the best answer in the world, but at least you can try them again.
Production Intern/Assistant: Yeah, here’s the production office number.
This is actually bad, because most likely if the production office is set up, then it is staffed up too. But still worth a shot.
Production Intern/Assistant: No not quite yet. Probably next week though.
That’s the answer you want!
Adult Jack: Great! Has a line producer or production coordinator been hired for the project.
Production Intern/Assistant: Yeah, actually.
Adult Jack: Wonderful. Might I be able to forward my resume to them for staffing?
And it goes from there. Then you have to check back.
So as you can see, I can’t help but feel the parallel between my adulthood and childhood. It’s a slug, but you gotta do it. Sad fact: You know how I finally got the Gambit toy? My friend found one for me. Which sadly, despite my best efforts, is probably what I am going to need to actually land the job.
…Continued from the post below. “What do you mean ‘you don’t talk to me that way’? I’m your fuckin’ CEO!” Max’s yell could be heard from his office, echoing through the bullpen. Donald stepped out of his office out into the open. He was going to make a show of it.
“You don’t call my assistants ‘your bitches’, you don’t call my sound mixers ‘incompetent fuck wads’ and you don’t call me–” Donald announced as if he were nailing a reformation on to the post schedule’s cork board.
Max stomped out of his office like a bully who just received a weggie from a chess club champion. He teetered on the edge of cool composure in the face of anger and going atomic. Then he stared Donald down which shut him up mid sentence. He was literally face to face. Noses no more than an inch away from one another.
Donald was a husky man, not quite thick enough to be called fat. Long gray curly hair that went down his back, topped off with a baseball cap. Mutton chops and a bushy mustache. He wore jeans, sneakers and a Spurs jersey. He was a man who had been bullied before, but couldn’t resist fighting back. Max on the other hand was never used to the push back. It dumbfounded and infuriated him. He had an Ari Gold style to match the temperament. Finely pressed silk-like khakis, French cuffed dark red shirt, a class ring on one hand, a Rolex on the other. And always perfectly trimmed hair. Everyday it looked like he walked in with a fresh haircut.
Max pulled away. “You know what? I was wrong. You’re not a shit stain. You’re a monkey. You don’t think I haven’t talked to people. Your crew? The network? The clients on location? You showin’ up late. 12 hour shoots that last 16 hours. Receipts for $300 dinners your crew says they never had. Footage that barely resembles the episode pitch. Hell I got editors working round the clock to fix the shit you told the DP to shoot. Makes me wonder what the fuck you’re doing. Then my brother sends me this.”
He pulls his phone to show him a video.
“And all I can think of is, that reminds me of Donald. It must be all you fuckin’ do in that office of yours. Because sure as shit nothing else is getting done.”
Donald is fuming. But he has no comeback. He knows he’s fucked up. The only person people bitch about more than Max is Donald.
“You need me to finish out the series, Max.”
“You know, I don’t think I do. I’m so confident in how worthless you are, I think I’m going to have…”
Max peers around the bullpen. He starts wagging his finger as if he was playing eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Finally he stops dead on me.
“Seaver? He was a PA like three months ago. ”
“And he cast your whole show. He knows more about the companies than you do.”
“You can’t be serious! Max, bud!”
“I’m not your bud. I’m also not your boss anymore. Clean out your office and get the fuck out.”
Then Max walked off pulling out his cellphone to watch the Youtube video again. “I love that fuckin’ monkey drinking his pee! I’m going to call this the Donald video from now on.”
Donald couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. And neither could anyone else in the bullpen. Everyone was looking at me. Donald stood there for a second then finally turned to me and said, “Kid, you’ve no clue what you’re getting into. Good luck.”
Lazarus Motors just pulled out. The crew is scheduled to land in Michigan two hours from now. And I didn’t get the location release ahead of time.
For anyone unfamiliar with television production, this is bad…very very bad. Without that release, a legal document agreeing to let us film the yacht builder’s facility, $600 plane tickets per crew member (of which there are 7) and 3 nights of $150 per night hotel rooms (also per crew member and also non-refundable) totaling $7350 dollars, will go to waste. That doesn’t account for day rates or travel expenses of those crew members or equipment rented or baggage fees. And when the airline doesn’t have media rates, a truckload of film equipment equals a shit load of baggage fees.
Long story short. I am fucked.
Back up nine months ago. Suffering 2 months of unemployment destroyed all my New York savings. I took a deli counter job. I was serving a chocolate cream pie when I made a joke to a guy on his third martini. I honestly don’t know what the joke was, but before I knew it the guy offered me a job at his documentary production company.
“I like you kid. You remind me of a really good shit I once took.” He handed me his business card which, I swear, was made out of aluminum. Embossed in big letters was the name Max Luxburg. If I could have crumpled it up, I would have. But instead I gave him call the next day.
Before I knew it I was sitting in a cubical of a loud and hectic bullpen. Walls and floors made of marble echoed the chaos like a basketball court. But for the first time in my adult life I had an email address with my name followed by a company and weekends off. It felt good.
I started out as a production assistant, but instead of copying papers and making lunch runs, I was instantly given a short web series to produce.
“Knock it out of the park, penis head.” Ever since I shaved my head, I found I liked the bald look. But Max made no reservations about phallic comparisons. “You’re from New York. You know how to get things done.” Then he got on his motorcycle and drove out the emergency exit from his office.
To be honest, producing the show, a collection of short segments about pet stores around Los Angeles wasn’t that hard. It mostly involved calling stores and shelters, trying to convince them were weren’t trying to make them look crazy or stupid (which we were) and figuring out how to make a schedule work between them and our “avant- garde” host Doggie Dave.
Max continued to throw projects my way and I kept doing what needed to be done. So then he bumped me up to assistant producer on Fill My Grill, a show about customizing BBQ equipment with Richard Karn.
Then one day I was at my desk when I heard Max knock over a bowl of jelly beans. The clash echoed through out the whole office, as the usual chaos came to a silent halt. What followed was a yell of, “What do you mean ‘you don’t talk to me that way?'” Something was up and someone was getting fired.
To be continued…
–Jack Out (Also I won’t drag this out like Jill. I’ll update it in a few days.)
Ed Wood, Derek Zoolander, Shaggy and Scooby, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Ron Burgundy, Donna Noble, Falstaff, and the holy trinity, Larry, Curly, and Moe. What do these cinematic and literary icons all share? Their ineptitude for logic and common sense. In other words, they’re fools.
I’ve begun work on a new spec scripts (finally) and decided to make the theme of the story centering on the archetypal fool. So in preparation I’ve begun meditating and ruminating. It seems that every comedy has a fool of some sort. In sitcoms, there’s usually the idiot character. Friends had Joey, Seinfeld had George Castanza, and The Simpsons may have the greatest fool of all time, Homer. In film, we’ll watch whole stories about Forrest Gump, Everette McGill, and Don Quixote.
Sometimes they exist to amuse us and make us feel better about ourselves. They dance through life, as random happenstance protects them from danger, completely unaware. (Think Baby’s Day Out)
But sometimes the fool is not so lucky. These ones are trapped by their short comings, doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again. I sympathize with this fool. Their struggle is a reflection of our own wrong headed but continued behavior. Ed Wood is a difficult movie for me to watch for this very aspect. I will point out that this fool is, many times, not a fool at all. But someone who views the world in such a new way, he is rejected. Moneyball‘s Billy Beane is a primary example. And although he is right, it doesn’t make him any less tragic.
Why is the fool a necessary part of our pop culture? Maybe it reaches back to when we were children. We were cruel to the fool in class. The crueler we were to them, the more we distanced ourselves from the possibility we could be one ourselves. We lacked the sympathy and compassion to do otherwise. As we grew older, we viewed our parents as the fools. (In many teen geared sitcoms, the parents are the bumbling idiots, completely out of touch with reality.) And as we graduated into adulthood and came to see the expansiveness of reality, some of us started to view ourselves as the fool. Taking chances we couldn’t possibly guarantee the success of. Or getting ourselves into complicated situations where, in the confrontation of the moment, we acted foolishly. While in retrospect, the wiser choice seemed so obvious.
These two sides, the fanciful fool and the regretful one…I want them to meet. Set them at odds. I want to take the pained lamenting man and have him grab the dancing moron by the shirt collar and demand answers and ask confronting questions. I want these two to hash it out. And at the end I’ll have them reassemble back into one and see if the fool has changed. I honestly don’t know if he will. I’ll have to find out when I write the story. But in the meantime, I want to take a good good look at him and for a second pretend…
The image I see is of a man, hunched over in his bar stool cradling his pint. It’s a rare moment for him, or perhaps only a moment he has when he thinks he’s alone. I’m not sure if he can identify where his life has gone astray. I’m not even sure if he is even aware of it. He is on a path that he cannot change himself. When he notices that you are there, that he is no longer alone, he spins in his bar stool raising his glass. He pats you on the back or maybe playfully punches you in the arm. He tells you something and he’s so excited to tell it to you. To him it seems like an incomprehensible epiphany so profound that it must have been bequeathed by God himself. And you would be happy for him if you’d not heard it a dozen times before. You offer to buy him a drink. He laughs, dismissing your offer in an attempt to hold on to his dignity. You realize it is painful for him to accept your kindness. But he cannot afford not to. He tells you stories with inflated details and unlikely happy endings. He gives you unsolicited advice and improbably business secrets. And when it’s time for you to go he claps your forearm, pleading that it is far too early for a departure.
You want to comfort him but it is too much. The notion being that any help you render will not possibly bring any sort of lasting change. He now knows the time is at its end and release your arm. He gives you a smile and a thanks, then says he’ll get you the next time. You wish him luck. He swirls around in his bar stool another couple of times.
Just some thoughts.